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[100] Overview

Free Mail allows you to use any email software (using POP3/SMTP) to securely and anonymously send and receive email using Freenet as the transmission medium. Delivery is confirmed with a positive acknowledgement sent automatically.

Free Mail is written in Python, an interpreted scripted multi-platform language. It is available with a complete automated installer for Windows and a tarball for Linux and BSD.

The current version is 0.20 alpha.

[200] How to get Free Mail


[300] How to set up Free Mail

Full and complete documentation is included with the software. Installation is trivial.

Do make a note of your private and public keys you use to create identities. If you need to reinstall, you can recreate your same Free Mail address if you use these same keys.

[400] How Free Mail works

Free Mail acts as a local SMTP server (accepting mail for delivery across Freenet) and a POP3 server (passing received mail to your mail software). When it has to send mail it looks up a Mail Site for the recipient. The Mail Site is created (and updated) by Free Mail for each user and includes the public key and next available slot. Having retrieved the Mail Site, Free Mail can then encrypt and insert the email message as a file in Freenet. The Free Mail server regularly scans for incoming messages which it decrypts and stores ready to be collected using POP3.

Free Mail automatically handles retrying delivery, and will confirm that the mail message was finally received (or failed).

Because the emails in transit are stored on Freenet, without needing direct communication between Free Mail servers, it is not necessary to run Free Mail continually. It will pick up where it left off when ever you start it.

More information

Detailed information on how Free Mail works is included in the documentation that comes with the programme. You can also read about it on the website:


[500] Bugs

Broadly speaking there are two major bugs:

100% CPU Usage

Free Mail will inevitably start consuming 100% of CPU. It still functions but other tasks on your computer slow down. Since you would normally be running your Freenet node on the same computer, and by default is has a Low priority, Freenet effectively stops functioning, which means Free Mail isn't able to use it to send or receive anyway.

This bug may occur immediately you start Free Mail or it may not occur for several hours.

One suggested solution is to lower the priority of the Free Mail task. Make sure it is lower than Freenet itself (on Windows you would want to raise the Freenet priority a notch). This solution is not recommended.

Instead I suggest you end Free Mail and restart it. Free Mail author recommends you run it continually, but by its design that doesn't seem necessary. Running it once a day should be sufficient to send and receive emails.

Crashing

Sometimes Free Mail will get itself into a state where it just crashes. This may be associated with processing a message. On Windows this may mainfest itself as a fault in the Python DLL. The crash may occur immediately or after a few hours. There is no known solution other than to do a clean install of Free Mail. When you recreate your user identity, make sure you use the same private and public keys if you want to retain your Free Mail address.

[600] Support and future development

Free Mail is apparently no longer supported. There are second-hand accounts that the author has asked someone else to take over Free Mail development.

No one is known to have taken that up.

The Python source code is available.

Some people would like to see Free Mail rewritten in a cross-platform non-interpreted language to avoid resource consumption. Fuqid is offered as a model example (other than it being Windows specific) of a light-weight utility.

[700] Email gateway

Sonax in his flog expressed the desire for a Free Mail to email gateway. That is the ability to send an email using Free Mail and have it delivered to someone with an ordinary Internet email address. It would also be nice to be able to go the other way: an Internet email user could address their email through a gateway and it would be delivered to a Free Mail address.

No one is known to be developing such a FreeMailGateWay.

[800] User experiences

Some people have simply been unable to send or receive freemails with anyone else. My observation is that Free Mail is rarely able to retrieve the Mail Site of the intended recipient. Just why this is needs further investigation. This may be a fault with Free Mail code. This may be due to the difficulties of finding seldom requested data in Freenet (a routing issue). This may be due to overloaded nodes.

You can report your experiences here:

Your ID
To/from yourself
Received
Sent
Comments
Yes
None
11 - none successful
Amazingly after several weeks it looks like Free Mail has retrieved two Mailsites and is going to try to deliver a message.